We are inviting you to Live Lent 2020

During the next 40 days we will share prayers, testimony, good news stories, learning opportunities and daily challenges or reflections to take part in.

Saturday 4th April

Today is our last day looking at Our Calling – Evangelism. Thank you to Susanna Brookes for leading us on our journey this week.

Easter Sunday is the best day of the year to have the privilege of leading worship. To have led folk through the solemn and thought-provoking events of Holy Week, and then to make the glorious proclamation – “Alleluia! Christ is risen!” and hear the enthusiastic response “He is risen indeed! Alleluia!” I cannot help but have the biggest smile, as I know my Lord is risen, triumphant and with us – even to the end of the age. Then to be able to preach the Gospel in all it’s glory, is such a gift.

The final evangelism challenge is two fold. Firstly, using the prayer below, renew your commitment to Christ. Or, if you are praying it for the first time, please tell a Christian friend, someone at church, or email chair@sheffieldmethodist.org to be put in touch with your local church.

The second part of the challenge is to invite someone to church with you when public worship is available to us again. Maybe someone that you have been building a friendship with through the Lent Challenges? And when the time feels right, and you feel prompted by the Holy Spirit to do so, ask your friend if they would like to explore more about what it means to be a Christian…and be prepared to do that alongside them, either through discussion or joining a group like Alpha or Christianity Explored together, or even asking them if they want to make the prayer below their own too.

Lord God. I believe that Jesus is your Son. I believe that he died and rose again to pay the price for the wrong that I have done. Please forgive me for all the things that I have thought said or done which have not been Christ-like. Help me now to live my life as a follower of Jesus, with the help of your Holy Spirit. Amen.

Now go and find a bible and read 2 Corinthians 5:17 (or google it!) – Welcome to the Christian family.

 

Friday 3rd April

When I was a student at Cliff, once a year we had “Angel Week”. Every Angel had a Mortal and vice versa. It was done in secret, and as an Angel you orchestrated treats and surprises for your mortal, whilst someone else would be doing that for you. We loved it, and it lifted everyone’s spirits, and reminded us to be kind and show God’s love to one another in what we did. These acts of kindness varied greatly from leaving notes on someones desk with a verse of scripture, to waking to find your favourite chocolate bar outside your room, or hearing that your ‘Manual’ (chores) were going to be covered by someone else. Or the really elaborate ones which involved treasure hunts and the like. It was an idea that was so lovely, that I introduced it to the YWAM group that I was a part of in Canada, where it also went down a treat.

Today’s evangelism challenge is to think of someone who you could show God’s love to. Maybe anonymously or perhaps by going the extra mile to show God’s love to someone who is close to you. It doesn’t have to be showy or elaborate, but some ideas may include, sending someone a card, buying them a book, making a cup of tea, calling round with a slice of their favourite cake, offering to sit with someone for company, or reading with someone who has difficulty with their eyesight. And when they ask why you are doing it – say “I want to show you the love of God” and see what conversation follows.

Again this was written pre-Covid-19, but the principle can be the same – bake a cake and leave on a neighbours doorstep. Post a note through someones door with an offer of help or a lovely picture on a card. Chat to your neighbours over the garden fence (leaving the recommended 2 meter gap between you), invite someone to your church FaceBook page… show God’s love in lots of little, but intentional ways.

Thursday 2nd April

Recently I had a time when I was not well, and one of the most encouraging things that people did for me was to write, text, email or send messages saying that they were praying for me. I cannot tell you how much this meant to me. I have kept every single card and letter that I was sent as they remind me both of God’s provision and love and people’s generosity and thoughtfulness.The kind people who sent them may not know the impact they had, and neither may we when we take up today’s challenge.

Today’s evangelism challenge is to ask God to bring to mind someone that you could pray for, and then send them a note, email, text to say that they are in your prayers. At the moment visiting is not recommended, but when you can, or even over the phone or in a letter, maybe it would even be appropriate to offer to pray with someone – it doesn’t have to be a long fancy prayer…try something like this: Lord God, I thank you for my friend ……… You made him/her, love him/her and know him/her. Please be close to him/her today, and give your peace, hope, comfort and guidance to him/her. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

Wednesday 1st April

One of the common misconceptions that people have of those who work in Christian Ministry, is that we always find it easy to share our faith.

*Spoiler alert* – we don’t.

It still takes a certain amount of courage to speak up or step out, especially (I find) when I am not ‘in role’ ie being mum or friend rather than at work per se.

Today’s evangelism challenge is (in my opinion – because of the phrase I am about to quote,) one of the most difficult. Take time to recall those words which are so hard to say, but which you have probably prayed from the Covenant Prayer “I freely and wholeheartedly yield all things to your pleasure and disposal”. These are challenging words indeed in these uncertain times. But God is still God and still faithful. If you know someone who is struggling with anxiety at this time, listen to them, offer words of honest reassurance, and ask if you can pray either with them or for them.

Tuesday 31st March

My Grandma was one of my most favourite people in the world. She was a beautiful Christian lady full of faith, and a level of patience I can only aspire to! When I was a student at Cliff (many moons ago), I wrote a letter to her explaining I felt God’s calling to be a local preacher. She replied, in what turned out to be the last letter I received from her, saying: “…Never forget, that where God calls, He equips.” This quote (adapted from Hebrews 13:21) has stayed with me – steadying me many times when I have felt completely inadequate for the task ahead.

Today’s evangelism challenge is to listen if God is calling you to fulfil a role for Him. Maybe there are going to be roles within your church as activities resume, that you could help with? Think of a time when God called you – did you act?

Remember step out, prepared to speak His words and act in His strength…as He equips you.

Monday 30th March

This week we are looking at Our Calling – Evangelism and Susanna Brookes, Pastor for the Doncaster Circuit will guide us on our journey.

My favourite definition of evangelism is the quote; “Evangelism is one beggar telling another beggar where to find bread”.

Who first coined this phrase is unknown, but I heard Rev Dr Donald English say it. He was someone who had an incredible amount of knowledge and understanding, but would chat to anyone, with no airs or graces, in a way they could understand and make them feel valued (and remember their name!).

So, for today’s evangelism challenge, make time to speak with (and listen to) someone. And if appropriate, be prepared to invite them to church or even simply round for coffee, and begin to build relationships – “one beggar telling another beggar where to get bread”. Originally when I wrote this, it was pre-Covid-19. At the moment, it might not be appropriate to have face to face contact with someone, but a phone call could still be welcome, or even FaceTime or video call or Skype to lessen the sense of isolation.

Sunday 29th March

A prayer for Lent from District Chair Gill Newton

Holy God, source of our very life, in these days when our lives feel confined and restricted and dark, remind us that you constantly call us out of the shadows and into the light, offering us the gift of new life.  When all around us seems full of despair and hopelessness, surprise us each day with your gifts of love and grace.  Open our eyes to see where you are still breathing new life into your creation and into us that we might be renewed in our inner being and enabled to reach out to others with compassion and love.  In the name of Christ, Amen.

Saturday 28th March

Today is our last day looking at Our Calling – Service. Thank you Paul King for guiding us on our Lent journey

Over the last week or so we’ve seen stories on the news about people panic buying food and essential items, perhaps we should consider supporting Traidcraft or other fairly trading companies in order to support and serve those further afield.

Friday 27th March

There’s lots of talk and information around guiding us to use technology, however not everyone can just log onto facebook or visit a website, or even make a video call, so we need to not forget about the telephone. Sometimes hearing a voice can make all the different.

Who can you make a phone call to today?

Thursday 26th March

In many communities there are volunteer schemes serving the most vulnerable with deliveries. Can you offer your support too? (DBC checks needed and also to follow the latest government guidance re Coronavirus)

Are you already supporting your community in this way? Please share your story.

Wednesday 25th March

Making the most of technology “We should be having a Syrian Refugees support group meeting this week. This cannot be in person as usual, but we are going to be using Zoom and I hope we can all share in the ‘meeting’. Thankfully the group were able to provide ‘kit’ to the Syrians which will keep us all connected.”

Can you help someone improve their use of technology in order for them to remain connected during times of isolation?

Tuesday 24th March

Sharing is caring “We had a surprise visit today from a young mum from Central who lives near us, she came to see if we oldies were OK. She is quite shy but plucked up the courage to come. We were able to share with her details of what would have been in the Mothers’ Day service and I am going to pass on her contact details to the Central office so she can continue to get service details direct.”

This week can you share details of how the Methodist Church is continuing to offer worship?

Monday 23rd March

This week on our Lent journey we are looking at Our Calling – Service.

Paul King, our Ecumenical Officer for the Derbyshire Circuits will guide us for the next six days and reminds us that the Church exists to be a good neighbour to people in need and to challenge injustice.

“This weekend I had a phone conversation with Ian Birchmore of Central in Chesterfield, who has much involvement with the Night Shelter and TT Foodbank. He explained that the foodbank is busy with big offers of surplus food from hotels and restaurants who were already stocked up to serve large numbers for Mothers’ Day.”

Everyone can be a good neighbour.

Sunday 22nd March

A prayer from Rev. Gill Newton

Loving God, often we would enter this stage of the season of Lent with increased joy and anticipation as Easter draws near.  But we find ourselves in dark and difficult times where we are confined to our homes, distanced from those we love and care about, anxious about our own health and the health of others and sometimes confused about what to do for the best.

Thank you that the reality of your resurrection means that you are present with us in all things; that your Spirit continues to be at work in your world and in us.  May your resurrection light shine into our lives, renew our connection with you and enable us to sustain and nurture those relationships that are vital to our wellbeing.  May we know ourselves to be loved and held by you and may we continue to find ways of sharing that love with one another.  In the name of Christ, Amen

 

Saturday 21st March

Today is our final challenge from Dr. Jan Eldred. Thank you Jan for guiding us through this week in Lent.

Think of a time where you volunteered at a church or community event. Reflect on the skills, knowledge and attitudes you used and what did you learn for the future?

Friday 20th March

If you are a young person, speak to someone who is retired and spend a few minutes asking them about their experiences of growing up which could include school, church, hobbies and friendships.  If you are a retired person, speak a young person and ask them about their experiences of school, church, hobbies and friendships.  What did you learn from the conversation? In light of the current advice re Coronavirus this can be done over the phone or on a video call for example

Thursday 19th March

Challenge yourself to learn about someone else’s faith; this could be someone from a Christian or other faith.  Do this by reading or by talking with a friend or colleague.  What was interesting? What was difficult to understand?  Did you have anything in common?

Wednesday 18th March

We are hearing more and more concerns about climate change and its impact.  Learn about how you can help make a difference through individual actions:  https://www.imperial.ac.uk/stories/climate-action/

Choose one action to follow-up and tell us what you have done.

Tuesday 17th March

Learn about someone to whom you have not spoken before, in your neighbourhood, workplace or church. Tell them a bit about yourself and invite them to talk about themselves; making connections helps us all in many different ways. Maybe use this opportunity to offer to help anyone who is self-isolating, who would appreciate a regular conversation or some supplies bringing to their home.

Monday 16th March

As we reach day 20 of Lent we start to look at Our Calling – Learning and Sharing.

Dr. Jan Eldred co-ordintor of the Learning and Development group is going to be guiding us through this week.

Lent is a time for learning; learning about ourselves, other people, the planet, our beliefs and our churches:

Learn to give yourself a few minutes each day to just ‘be’ by being quiet; listening to instrumental music or reading some words of reflection.  Do this for a week and then consider what difference it has made for you; what did you learn about yourself?

Sunday 15th March

A prayer from Rev. Gill Newton

God of all, as we make our journey through this season, you continue to ask us to examine our lives in the presence of Jesus.

May your truth and your light reveal to us those things that need transformation and may we know the joy of being set free from all that gets in the way of us being who you created us to be.

May the living water of your Spirit bring us refreshment, healing and life.

In the name of Christ, Amen.

Saturday 14th March

Today is our final day looking at Our Calling – Worship with Local Preacher in training Graham Johnson. Thank you for posing such thought provoking questions Graham.

When singing hymns and songs are you drawn into the full meaning of the words and able to be transported to a higher place? Which song gives you a sense of God’s presence?

Friday 13th March

It’s our penultimate day talking about all Worship with Graham Johnson.

Are you open, receptive and willing to respond when God speaks?

When was the last time you did something that you felt God was asking you to do?

Thursday 12th March

When sharing in prayers, do you have a heart of praise and thanksgiving for who God is and what he has done whatever the circumstances?

What can you give thanks to God for today?

Wednesday 11th March

Do you expect God to speak to you during the time of worship?

If so, when – perhaps in the silence, through the hymns and prayers, or during the message?

What has God said to you recently?

Tuesday 10th March

Before the Sunday Service, the preacher (or minister) prepares worship, their message and themselves. How do you prepare yourself for Sunday worship? What will you do this week?

Monday 9th March

Using the themes from Our Calling over the next four weeks questions, challenges and reflections will be shared for Lent.

This week we’ll be looking at Worship with Local Preacher in training, Graham Johnson

Is Sunday, in church, the only day of the week that you draw near to God, or do you meet with Him daily? Where or how have you met with God during the last week?

 

Sunday 8th March

A prayer from Rev. Gill Newton

Gracious God, today we hear your challenge to journey with you from the old to the new, from the familiar into unchartered territory.
You call us to experience new places, enjoy new relationships and
establish new communities and we are both anxious and excited! May we journey on together with you, knowing that there is nothing to fear and everything to gain.
And as we journey, may we fight for justice and seek to bring hope and blessing to all we encounter along the way.

In the name of Christ, Amen.

Saturday 7th March

Be better resourced to support Mental Health Issues, particularly issues that young people face

As a society, we’re becoming better at talking about Mental Health Issues, although there’s still a long way to go. I’m sure many of us will have either struggled with our mental health at times, or know someone who has. We can often wonder what we, as normal everyday people, can do to help people with what are often complex challenges.

As we end our time reflecting upon the 3Generate Manifesto, can I simply ask you to pray? To pray for the young people you know in your world, whether at Church, in your local community, and in your families. If you feel comfortable, maybe you can ask God what 1 thing you can do in response, either to the issues around Mental Health that many people are struggling with, or something else we’ve looked at over the past few days.

Friday 6th March

Make Churches more eco friendly / Challenge people in power about climate change, poverty and world peace

I want to take you back to our first day together, where I asked you to share your greatest passion from your teenage years. Maybe it was something to do with world peace; or poverty in Africa; or the Aids crisis; or the Fairtrade movement, or persecuted Christians, or the climate.

  • Are you more passionate today about that issue compared to your teenage years, or less?
  • What did your passion as a teenager lead you to do in practice? Did it lead you to go on marches, do a sponsored walk or write to your MPs?
  • What’s your greatest passion today, right now?
  • What would you like your passion to inspire you to do in practice, today?
  • Write that thing down, take a photo of it and share it with someone you know today, in writing, over the phone, or via a email or text…

Thursday 5th March

Change the sterotype of Churches being boring and modernise them.

Go on…be honest…what was your view of Church when you were 13? As a 12 year old, mine was quite positive, with a good number of people my age attending Church.

However, as an adult…and as an employee of the Church…can I admit that I sometimes – actually, quite often – find Sunday mornings boring? It can be hard being the youngest people in the Service by 30-40 years, with a 2 year old child running around not wanting to keep still.

Is it wrong to share that the part I enjoy most about Sunday mornings is often the coffee, biscuits and sharing after the service? Perhaps that’s because that’s the chance where I get to be most real with people; to find out how people’s weeks have been; to offer to pray for people, or to meet up for with someone for that coffee…maybe that’s the time when we’re most like the Church?

Go on…be honest…what’s your view of Church today, as a adult? What 1 thing can you – we – do to bring more life giving moments to Church?

Wednesday 4th March

Build an inclusive and welcoming Church

As a child, I went to a First School (Reception – Y3) followed by a Middle School (Y4-Y7), starting secondary school in Y8 (rather than the usual Y7). In the mid-90’s it switched to a Primary School, meaning that my class were the final Year 7 class at Binley Woods Middle School. This meant that Y6 & Y7 went up to the local secondary schools in the same year…which meant a joint leavers assembly. As a class, we weren’t impressed with ‘sharing’ our leavers assembly with the year below; we set up a petition – which didn’t get us very far, apart from missing a break time as a class. We weren’t very inclusive or welcoming to those in the year group below us.

  • Reflect upon a time when you felt included and welcomed, whether in a Church context or elsewhere.
  • What made you feel included and welcomed? What can you learn from that, and what does that look like for your Church context?

Tuesday 3rd March

Make sure God is in our conversations and decisions

Before I went to University, I spent a Gap Year with a Christian organisation called Careforce, who placed me at St Mary’s Church in Hampton, London, as a Youth Worker for the year. As part of the training at the start of the year, we had a ‘Quite Time’ each day, where we all went off to do our ‘God time’ before Breakfast.

As a youth worker, I’ve led youth groups where we’ve had a ‘God slot’, with that being the 10 minutes where we talk about God (and the temptation being to think that we don’t need to do so in the remaining 80 minutes).

  • Do we see God as being interested in our day-to-day conversations and decisions, or just in the time we set aside for our ‘Quiet Times’ or ‘God slots’?
  • What 1 thing can you do today to ensure that you include God more in your conversations and decisions today?

Monday 2nd March

Over the next 5-6 days, Jonathan Buckley, Youth & Children’s Co-ordinator from the Sheffield Circuit is going to let the 3Generate Manifesto to inspire our Lent Challenges and Questions.

3Generate is the national gathering of young people from across the Methodist Connexion, regularly attracting over 1000 young people from across the country. But before we explore the Manifesto, can I take you back just a few years to when you were 13.

Give yourselves 5 minutes just to remember what life was like when you turned into your teenage years, and consider the following questions:

  • What was your greatest passion as a teenager? What was the 1 thing that you wanted to change for good in the world?
  • What 1 thing did you want the adults in your world – whether in the Church, your school, your family or the wider community – to do differently?
  • What 1 thing could you, and we, learn from your 13-year-old self?

Sunday 1st March 

Over the next 5-6 days, we’re going to let the 3Generate Manifesto to inspire our Lent Challenges and Questions. 3Generate is the national gathering of young people from across the Methodist Connexion, regularly attracting over 1000 young people from across the country. But before we explore the Manifesto, can I take you back just a few years to when you were 13.

Give yourselves 5 minutes just to remember what life was like when you turned into your teenage years, and consider the following questions:

  • What was your greatest passion as a teenager? What was the 1 thing that you wanted to change for good in the world?
  • What 1 thing did you want the adults in your world – whether in the Church, your school, your family or the wider community – to do differently?
  • What 1 thing could you, and we, learn from your 13-year-old self?

A Prayer for Lent

Loving God, as we set out on our journey through this season, we may have chosen to give something up or take something up to help us draw closer to you.  At the moment we may still be full of enthusiasm and commitment to those choices, but we recognise that the temptation to give up may come.  So, please help us by your Spirit to remain committed to what you have called us to do in order that our lives and the lives of others might be improved.  Keep us on the right path and give us a sense of you sharing the journey with us.  In the name of Christ, Amen

 

Saturday 29th February

During Lent we are invited to events around the District so we can learn more about and reflect on our Christian faiths.

The Bolsover & Staverley circuit are holding weekley ecumenical prayer lunches in local church using the All We Can Lent resources

In Clowne and Barlborough Lent will be the focus at the WOT meetings – Worship on Thursday – every Thursday morning 10.30am to 11.15am at Clowne.

All are welcome.

 

Friday 28th February

During Lent we are invited to join in courses around the District so we can learn more about and reflect on our Christian faiths.

In Rotherham we are invited to study the book of Ruth at:

Broom Methodist Church every Tuesday between 10th March &  7th April at 2pm.

Central Methodist Church every Wednesday between 11th March & 8th April at 1pm.

 

Thursday 27th February

Ecumenical Creativity For Lent

Relationships between Wales Kiveton Methodist Church and their Anglican sisters and brothers at Wales Parish Church have been good for many years.  Methodists join the Anglicans for Ash Wednesday worship and the quarterly ‘Cluster Communion Service’ and now take their turn at hosting this as the united service for the parishes of Wales, Harthill and Thorpe Salvin.   In the summer church and chapel took turns at hosting a Songs of Praise, preceded by a barbecue.  On Remembrance Sunday church and chapel members fill the parish church to capacity for the community’s act of remembrance;  and in the afternoon gather again for Holy Communion with Prayers for Peace at the Methodist church.   To coordinate and develop the opportunities for united worship a group was formed to bring together Vicar and wardens, Minister and stewards and the meetings not only covered business but fostered growing relationships of trust and friendship.

In 2017 the invitation to share in the Songs of Praise service was extended to the members of Blessed William Richardson Roman Catholic Church at Kiveton Park.   Roman Catholics came in strong numbers and their attendance and participation in the service prompted the suggestion that they send representatives to the quarterly Anglican/Methodist ecumenical group.    The energy, vision, openness and commitment embodied in the two Roman Catholics who joined the group have served as a catalyst for deepened friendship and ecumenical endeavour.    Most notably, it was our Roman Catholic friends who in 2019 suggested an ecumenical Lent Course, commending the material for study and offering to launch the course and lead the first session.   The remaining four sessions were hosted by the other four congregations (who, by now, also sent representatives to the Ecumenical Group).   The response was amazing – both in terms of turnout (between 30-50 at each session) and openness to sharing and talking about faith, using the material in Life Attitudes (a five session course on the Beatitudes).   At the first session our Roman Catholic friends taught us the hymn, Be not afraid. I go before you always. Come, follow me, and I will give you rest by Robert Dufford.  The hymn was so well received that it was sung in each of the subsequent four sessions.  Our Anglican and Roman Catholic friends also came to our 150th Church Anniversary service and sang it.   When Blessed William Richardson took its turn to host the popular Songs of Praise service a representative of each congregation was asked to contribute something to the service that illustrated the chosen theme of listening to God.  The testimonies that it prompted – from all three traditions – was inspiring.   Delicious soup and cake were served before the worship and the church was set out in café style for both refreshments and worship.  (Some Methodists and Anglicans had their first experience of “café church” thanks to our Roman Catholic friends!)

No persuasion was needed when it was suggested that a Lent Course be arranged for 2020.  This year’s course will use the book, The Joy of the Gospel by Paula Gooder, based on Pope Francis’ reflections on mission and evangelism, published as Evangelii Gaudium. Widely recognised as offering wisdom and vision for all Christians in a culture that is often hostile to the church, Evangelii Gaudium offers a positive and realistic approach to sharing faith in the modern world.  Each of the five churches will take their turn to host and lead the sessions.

Roman Catholics now share fully in our two Remembrance Sunday services.  In Advent, hosted by Harthill Parish Church, we were treated to a beautiful devotional Advent Service, led by our Roman Catholic friends (who supported the service in large numbers).   As attendances the chapel’s Carol and Christingle services had been disappointing the decision was made at Church Meeting to combine the two, preceding the worship by the opportunity to make Christingles and share festive refreshments.  We extended the invitation to our Roman Catholic friends to join us (as we were aware they don’t have a carol service) and inspired by their hospitality earlier in the year it was unanimously agreed, “Let’s do it like the Catholics did” (aka café style).  Blessed William Richardson members came in strong numbers and the Catholic carol, Come, come, come to the manger was included in the service.   For some of our visitors they had never experienced a Christingle service before.

Further joint initiatives include taking packets of wild flower seeds, accompanied by a leaflet from the five churches, to the primary schools in the three communities as a challenge to encourage bees and care for creation;  and a trail of the five churches, pausing for prayer and refreshment in each.  Ecumenism is alive and flourishing and is bringing such joy to our five churches.   And it is worth adding …. there are actually four denominations involved as the minister at Wales Chapel, Revd Geoffrey Clarke, is a United Reformed Church minister!

– Rev Geoffrey Clarke

 

Wednesday 26th February

What does Lent mean? 

Beginning on Ash Wednesday , Lent is a time of reflection and preparation before the celebrations of Easter. Christians observe Lent to replicate Jesus’ sacrifice and withdrawal into the desert for 40 days at the start of his ministry.